Pillaton WI Report - September 2013

The History of Port Eliot

Did you know that for many centuries the approach to Port Eliot House was by water access across what is now the park? This was one of the many facts told to the WI by Venetia Lynch who is a steward in the house.

Some of the other things she told us was that the house originally was a Priory built by the Augustine Monks. The Church used to be the Catholic Cathedral for Cornwall and of course we still have a Bishop of St Germans. Apparently when accessing the Church or Priory by boat, a tithe was payable – early parking charges perhaps?

All this was many years ago as it was estimated that the house might have been built as early as the 6th century. By about the beginning of the 18th century the Eliots, who by this time were rich, no longer wanted to be reliant on tides so they diverted the course of the estuary allowing the land in the front of the house to be reclaimed.

The current Earl of St Germans inherited the house at age 21. He became a great friend of the painter Robert Lenkiewicz who over time painted a mural in the 'round room' of the house, which he called the 'riddle' mural. Unfortunately he died before completing this task.

The house is now used for a variety of events. Weddings take place in the orangery, a Rosamund Pilcher film was made there and the house and grounds are regularly opened during the summer. In addition this year the family has hosted the Port Eliot dog festival and whippet tea party (there are apparently two incumbent whippets!) and a classic car rally. Also a couple of years ago the Cornwall Federation of WIs had a summer garden party in the grounds.

So a beautiful house in a wonderful setting so full of history going back many, many centuries. Hopefully it will continue to be used for all sorts of activities for many years to come.

Pam Lowther

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Last updated: 15 November 2013 Contact Us